District 300 takes first look at student performance in elementary, middle school
By Emily McFarlan Miller email@example.com @emmillerwrites September 27, 2013 4:42PM
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Updated: November 1, 2013 6:13AM
ALGONQUIN — Despite major changes to the Illinois Standards Achievement Test administered this spring, Community Unit School District 300 elementary and middle school students’ scores have been “pretty consistent.”
That’s according to Kara Vicente, assistant superintendent for middle school teaching and learning, who recently gave the District 300 Board of Education a first look at those scores, as well as other measurements of student growth.
The Illinois State Board of Education increased the “cut” scores used to determine whether student are meeting state standards this year, increasing the rigor of the test, Vicente said. It also “fundamentally” changed that test, aligning 20 percent of the questions to the Common Core State Standards the state gradually has been rolling out and districts have been adopting, she said.
In 2014, 100 percent of the test will be aligned to the Common Core, she said.
District 300 graphs show the district and state averages neck-and-neck at about 60 percent of students meeting state standards this year on the ISAT.
By class, 59 percent of third-, sixth- and eighth-graders met state standards in reading; 60 percent of fourth- and fifth-graders and 61 percent of seventh-graders did so, according to the presentation. If this year’s cut scores were applied to last year’s tests, that would show growth for most grade levels: up from 56 percent of third-graders would have met those standards last year; 58 percent of fourth and fifth; and 57 percent sixth.
Students in grades three to eight take the ISAT in both reading and math, according to the presentation.
Vicente did not compare unadjusted numbers from last year’s test with this year’s in her presentation. Those numbers will be made public by the state board in late October.
“Over time, our teachers are aligning their curriculum and instruction to the Common Core, but that does take time,” she said.
“And it’s important we look at more than one data point — that we don’t just look at our ISAT scores in isolation, and we keep looking at multiple measurements to really evaluate our student growth at the elementary and middle school levels.”
Students in kindergarten through grade eight take AIMS Web assessments in both reading and math in fall, spring and winter, the presentation said. Middle-schoolers also take Scantron tests in reading and math; and eighth-graders take EXPLORE, which predicts their performance on the ACT college entrance exam, it said.
This year, for the first time, District 300 is comparing its AIMS Web scores with national averages, Vicente said.
Nationally, 15 percent of students in grades one to five perform are at or above the 50th percentile on AIMS Web. This fall, 45 percent of District 300 students tested at or above the 50th percentile on the reading part of AIMS Web, and just under 64 percent on math, she said.